Lo-Q profit up 18% in 2010

Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2011 11:59 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Lo-Q, the maker of virtual queuing systems for theme parks and attractions, said today it is gearing up for an expansion drive. The results revealed revenues grew by just shy of 16 per cent to £20.3 million giving profit before tax of £2.32 million, up 18.4 per cent. The company has just over £6 million of cash.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:03 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

maXairMike said:
Regardless, that 100% will never be reached with FastPass, and I feel completely confident saying that for many reasons. The other Disney VQ methods still contain people in a physical line/holding area, limiting crowd overflow back into the midways and other areas of the park.

There will always be a stand-by area. People are generally unreliable. That's why hotels & airlines and such oversell.

But it still doesn't mean that the stand-by wait won't become the exception rather than the rule. (like flying stand-by or trying to do a 'walk-in' at a hotel)

I suppose the argument becomes more philosophical then in the sense of "When does virtual queueing just become queueing?"

I think the larger point is that the idea of getting in a long line and plodding forward for a hour until your 'turn' to ride is an old idea that is slowly being reworked. And the less the line looks like that antiquated idea of queueing, the more - and more creative - the opportunities to sell upcharges to those looking for a higher level of service or queue perks.

That ceiling of growth you fear may never be reached. The game will keep changing.


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Thursday, February 17, 2011 11:11 PM

If you can continue to add more room for people in other areas of the park, yes, I would agree. However, the issue that I see in the future isn't necessarily ride capacity (which is actually affected by these systems in reality, make no mistake. In the case of one particular attraction, the difference was an increase of almost double wait times on average). The more people you take out of the standby lines, the more people you have to fit on the midways walking around, in lines of attractions without the out-of-line VQ, in the shops, and in the restaurants. This will decrease your overall operational capacity if you can't create enough alternate space for those displaced guests.

Can you match the demand of new, high-drawing attractions with alternate space? I know that in certain parks I've visited, they wouldn't be capable of handling the displacement of guests due to the nature and design of the park(s). In addition, from Disney alone there is more than enough data to suggest that VQing does not result in the kind of positive growth in areas like food and merch that the concept is still pushed for. That's why I think Disney is doing the in-line VQing, it solves the displacement issue, and will likely improve wait times across the board once it is used on enough attractions.* Compared to what happened with FastPass, I would bet that the net result on merch and food will be negligible, or even positive. It certainly can't be worse.

*This is based on what I know and understand of the various VQ tests, current, and future implementations of the system. The last part of the sentence/statement is personal conjecture/opinion based upon 3 years in two different operational systems and seeing the various numbers achieved in each, both with and without VQ systems.

Last edited by maXairMike, Thursday, February 17, 2011 11:17 PM

Original BlueStreak64

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Thursday, February 17, 2011 11:35 PM
Jeff's avatar

A park does not decrease capacity. Ever. There are a finite number of attractions that offer a finite number of rides, transactions or whatever. That never changes.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 18, 2011 12:06 AM

And a part of that capacity is dependent upon how many people are in line at any given time for a certain attraction, as well as the rest of the lines. The seating capacities of the restaurants, and size of the stores are designed partly around those numbers and how many they expect to be on the midways at any given time. The moment you remove or greatly reduce the number of people using the standby lines for the major attractions (the ones likely to have out-of-line VQing), you put the equivalent number back into the other areas of the park. How do you handle that displacement? On busy days, most major attractions will have waits of over an hour. With just 2 attractions with a theoretical capacity of 1500/hr. with a 2 hour line each, if you displace half of the standby on out-of-line VQing at each attraction, you have just placed an additional load of 3,000 guests on all of your other facilities. If the capacity of the park is 70k based upon having those 3,000 guests in line, where is the additional room in the rest of the park for those 3,000 displaced guests? They have to go somewhere else in the park while waiting for their VQ time to arrive, but where? If you're already operating at capacity, then you already have your restaurants and shops maxed out, and the midways are already uncomfortably crowded. You have to make more alternative room for those displaced guests. If they simply jump back into another attraction line (which is already likely at or beyond the "customer service threshold"), you gain no sales and lower customer satisfaction.

How many of the parks implementing these out-of-line VQ systems do you think are realistically anticipating this displacement? I would say that Six Flags isn't, based upon the anecdotal evidence I've heard. Like I've said, I know of parks where if you increased the capacity reach of the current out-of-line system, they would not be able to adequately serve their guests. If you can barely adequately serve your guests at or near maximum capacity without the displaced guests, then you certainly can't adequately serve your guests under the displacement, therefore requiring (if you care about operational integrity) a lower capacity.

If you can provide alternate space to handle the several thousand displacement of guests per hour caused by just a few major attractions increasing their VQ usage/capacity, then yes, the capacity doesn't change. If you can't, then it should change to reflect that.

Last edited by maXairMike, Friday, February 18, 2011 12:21 AM

Original BlueStreak64

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Friday, February 18, 2011 12:41 AM
Jeff's avatar

No, capacity has nothing to do with lines. Ever. Forbidden Journey can still only dispatch every 7 seconds. Millennium Force can only dispatch every 100 seconds (or so). If people aren't standing in line, the other rides, restaurants and shops still accommodate the same number of people. You make my point for me... it's still a zero sum game. What I think you're implying is that waiting in a ride line is better than doing it elsewhere.

The challenge for the park is how to balance it all. No one manages the distribution of people better than Disney. They also don't think of it in black and white terms of ride queues. They occupy people with shows, parades, street performances, etc., and many of these attractions have "capacity" limited only by the space for people to view them. Six Flags and Cedar Fair have certainly caught on to this, and it's a key reason for doing things like Halloween parades or walk-through light shows.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 18, 2011 10:00 AM
Carrie M.'s avatar

The capacity debate makes me a bit tired every time it comes up. I think that's because folks are rarely talking about the same thing in terms of capacity.

It's true that maximum capacity will never change. The same number of guests will always be dispatched on the rides, be sitting in restaurants, watching shows, or walking the midways.

But it's also true that before virtual queuing, maximum capacity could have been met by an unduplicated count of guests. The same guest couldn't be in more than one place at the same time. So you could meet maximum capacity with a maximum number of guests.

Virtual queuing makes it possible for guests to be counted in more than one place at the same time. It does stand to reason that eventually that means there can be a fewer number of overall guests in the park at one time to meet maximum capacity. I don't know if that limit has ever or will ever be met, but I see the logic.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 18, 2011 10:18 AM

capacity

I think folks are talking about two different kinds of "capacity". One is the capacity of an individual ride. That is fixed by the ride's design. The other is the capacity of the park overall---in other words, when does the Moose out front have to say "Sorry folks, Park's full!" That's a fire marshal thing, and VQ can affect it.

Having a few thousand people standing in each of a dozen different queues means there is some place to *put* those people. If you suddenly dumped them all onto the midways, it is possible that you'd reach "Sorry folks, Park's full!" faster.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Friday, February 18, 2011 10:19 AM
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Friday, February 18, 2011 12:08 PM
Jeff's avatar

Carrie M. said:
Virtual queuing makes it possible for guests to be counted in more than one place at the same time. It does stand to reason that eventually that means there can be a fewer number of overall guests in the park at one time to meet maximum capacity. I don't know if that limit has ever or will ever be met, but I see the logic.

I don't think anyone debates that, but for the most part it isn't what people are arguing. That's what I was starting to get at, that parks have excess capacity they aren't using. What people often don't realize is that part of that capacity includes walking around, standing on the midway eating cheese-on-a-stick, waiting for Little Johnny to get off the Tilt-a-Whirl, using the restrooms, teenagers stalking each other, etc.

What the issue is not is one about someone losing. Anyone who argues they will somehow be disadvantaged apparently doesn't remember waiting in line for three hours to ride Magnum in 1990, before anyone did any kind of virtual or premium queue.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 18, 2011 1:18 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

This is the point in the conversation where I find it necessary to point out that I am NOT advocating against virtual queuing. I think VQ'ing is a natural evolution of change and will bring advantages and disadvantages just like most things do.

But suggesting there will be no disadvantages isn't right, in my mind. I would suggest that anyone who argues that no one will somehow be disadvantaged apparently doesn't remember how uncomfortable it was to be one of hundreds of thousands of the herds of consumer cattle wandering the midways at BooBuzz 2007. :) Virtual queuing could make those days more likely.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 18, 2011 1:23 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Carrie M. said:
Virtual queuing could make those days more likely.

If parks don't change to adapt to the changing crowd flow, sure. But the negative assumptions all seem to hinge on the idea that nothing about the park changes other than the queue procedures.

I don't think that will be the case. At least not for any park taking the change seriously beyond a novelty cash grab.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, February 18, 2011 1:23 PM
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Friday, February 18, 2011 1:34 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

That's fair enough. But you have to ask yourself, if those kinds of crowded midway days can exist now at a park where virtual queuing doesn't exist, what's the likelihood they will adjust when they adapt virtual queuing? Don't know. But I think that's what folks are thinking about.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Friday, February 18, 2011 2:51 PM
Jeff's avatar

It's a fair question, but mine always goes back to wondering why you'd go on those sorts of days. Of course, it was you who dragged me to Cedar Point on a July 4. ;)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, February 18, 2011 3:06 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Well people go en mass on those days for a reason-they're not at work.

Coaster geeks know when to go but most families just want to make their one park per year trip and likely don't know there are non busy days. I never knew that till I was a geek.


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Friday, February 18, 2011 4:43 PM
Vater's avatar

Really? I knew that when I was 5. Weekdays are going to be less busy than Saturday or Sunday.

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Friday, February 18, 2011 7:06 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Less busy, sure. But enthusiasts tend to know things like when a park will be dead and such. And/or seem more willing to go to places like disney when it is during the off season Besides, it still doesn't a count for the fact that people are still going to go on holidays and it may be busy.


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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 9:36 PM

Has anybody brought up that this hardware is going the way of the dodo
All they need to do is place a computer at the head of the line with a (private)website that says "text this passcode to this number and reserve you place in line"
They send back a text message with your time and maybe a password
to enter a shortcut que(good only after certain time)
We no longer need hardware to do this and the software would be cheap and easy to setup . (or make an ap for that)

The waterpark RFID wristband seems to be their answer to
continue to sell hardware But now most people carry more computing around than these things have.

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Monday, February 21, 2011 11:13 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

kevin38 said:
Has anybody brought up that this hardware is going the way of the dodo.

But now most people carry more computing around than these things have.

Yeah, mentioned briefly earlier in this thread.

A few years back we had a pretty lengthy discussion of alternate ways of VQ'ing that looks a little more relevant every day if you take the time to read through it.


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Monday, February 21, 2011 11:43 PM
kpjb's avatar

I think one of the reasons Lo-Q works is because of the gadget part of it. Everyone has a cell phone. People like having that Flash Pass dangling from their belt loop. It's like you're actually getting something for the money.

edit: I don't have a cell phone. I meant everyone else.

Last edited by kpjb, Monday, February 21, 2011 11:44 PM

Hi

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 1:50 AM
LostKause's avatar

I have a cell phone, but I don't use it anymore. It's a AT&T Go Phone, so when I need it again, I just need to get a new sim card for it. No contract is very cool. It makes a nice pocket watch and alarm clock right now though. lol

Carrying around a Q-Bot does a little advertising for the product. It gets some attention for Lo-Q, much more than a cell phone would. "Everyone" has their cell phones out looking at them from time to time, so it looks normal. Taking a look at your Q-Bot is not normal, so it gets the interest of others.

Texting ride reservations may be a cheaper way for the parks to do it though, maybe. It would be kind of cool for the park to just charge for individual ride reservations. Charge per ride reserved.

Gonch will love this... They could take it a step further than that even. They could charge more for sooner ride times. They could even "pro-rate" it rounded to the minute.

...And I would rant hatred for it. lol


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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 9:40 AM
Jerry's avatar

Honestly from a marketing perspective - I see them Texting you a "limited window" food coupon for a food stall near to the ride along with your ride reservation time - to entice you into spending $12.00 for that 6" subway sandwich while you wait... Unlimited focused marketing potential here.

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